Anatomy of a Source Sheet

What is a source sheet? It’s something we’re constantly working to improve at Sefaria. In an increasingly digital world, we want to make it easier than ever for people to learn independently from the comfort of their own devices. To facilitate these self-directed learners and empower teachers to reach new audiences, we’re encouraging an evolution of the source sheet to improve its ability to reach everyone—even without a teacher.

So how do you create one of these new source sheets? We’re sharing this breakdown of 10 tips that can help you make your sheets better and more widely-shareable than ever before.

10 essential parts of a source sheet:

1. Catchy Title: This is the first part of your sheet that people will see. Make sure it hooks the reader with something surprising, memorable or relevant. Your readers should get a sense of what your sheet is about just by reading your title.

2. Introduction: Why am I learning this? Set up your audience for success by giving readers some background on what they will be learning and why it matters. Think of this as you, the teacher, leading off the start of your class.

3. Define your terms: Define any special terms you are using, including Hebrew words or even the names of commentators you reference, so that learners of any background can follow along.

4. Primary text: Many source sheets are based on a primary text that may or may not come from the Sefaria library. You can bring any text into your source sheet: a poem, a song lyric, an excerpt from any book. So get creative! Add texts that are Jewish or secular, ancient or contemporary and explain how they relate.

5. Narration & Guiding Questions: Add some of your own interpretation, or narration, to guide your reader through the sources. What’s this source trying to tell us? What can we learn from it? Be sure to provide your reader with some guiding questions to think about while reading each source. What unique perspectives would benefit their learning? What pieces or characters are important here? If you were teaching a class, what questions would you ask to make sure the room is still engaged?

6. Supporting Texts + Narration: Time to bring in additional sources! Add texts from Tanakh, Talmud, Mishnah, whatever supports your lesson. Be sure to guide readers from one text to the next with narration and more guiding questions.

7. Additional Media: Make your source sheet more interesting and relevant by adding images, video, or audio. We know some educators who even use a clip or two from Seinfeld to make a point in their sheets--not that there’s anything wrong with that!

8. Easy to read formatting: It is important to make sure that your source sheet is easy to read and skim because let’s face it: digital content today needs to grab and hold a reader’s attention. If your source sheet looks like a big blob of text, many readers will tune out pretty quickly. Take advantage of our editing tools to make different words or sections of text bold, italic, or a different color. You can also add a divider line or extra spaces to break up sections on your source sheet, making it easy to identify where a primary source ends and your own comments begin.

Use the formatting bar to make text bold, italic, a different color, change the font or size, or add a link.

9. Debrief/Summarize: It is important to sum up your source sheet at the end to tie it all together for your reader. What kinds of sources did you use, and what was the main point that readers should have gotten from the lesson?

10. Don’t forget your settings! Once you are satisfied with your sheet, click the “Share” button on the top right of your screen. A window will pop up with several fields.

  • Add a description of your sheet so potential readers can see what it’s about.

  • Add some relevant tags, like “nefesh” and “Tehillim” in this case.

  • Most importantly, make sure your sheet is listed in the Sefaria Library. If not, readers won’t be able to find your sheet on Sefaria without having the direct link.

Pro Tip: Fill out your user profile so people know where their learning came from.

Now that you’ve learned the ins-and-outs of a good source sheet, take a crack at creating your own. Don’t forget to tag us when you share it with your friends on social media!

Check out the whole source sheet here.

Want to see another excellent example of a source sheet? Check it out!